The technology to simulate computer conversations with internet bots have been around for many years. Bots on the other hand become an increasingly trendy software model. There is a renewed obsession for bots that cannot be fully explained. But why are bots so popular? Where did they come from? Who is building bots and for what reason? These are just some of the questions that people keep asking.
What is an Internet Bot?
An internet bot is a software program that runs automated tasks on the Internet. They often automate those tasks you would do by yourself, such as fetching and displaying info, adding tasks on your to-do-list, and making dinner reservations among others.
Usually, bots are designed to perform simple but repetitive tasks. These scripts and programs are specifically created to help people do things much faster and on a scale. Take search engines like Google and Bing for instance. They use crawler bots that collect information from millions of domains periodically, and index the same on their respective result pages. Crawlers are why you are able to find any information online at all.
Various Types of Internet Bots and Their Uses
Due to the swelling number of applications made available online, there are countless internet bots assisting with running various applications such as online gaming and instant messenger applications. In fact, chatbots are an increasingly common type of internet bots that simulate conversations. You will often find them embedded in messaging apps. They are designed to seem as though you are chatting with a real human.
The chatbot released recently released by Taco Bell exemplifies how bots are used. This bot allows customers to order and pay for the tacos they need using an automated chat conversation.
From the foregoing, one can easily conclude that bots are very useful to internet users. But that is not always the case. While internet bots were first designed for legitimate reasons, things have changed over the years. The internet user faces multiple threats online, bots designed for malicious purposes being among them. Hackers are known to use bots to perform their malicious acts. They use them to breach your PC’s security by installing malicious files.
Distinguishing Good from Bad Bots
Today, internet bots account for close to half of the activities on the internet. While bots have a rather neutral origin, recent statistics indicate that 66 percent of all bot traffic currently available on the internet are used for malicious reasons. That means trouble for businesses with a significant online presence.
When in the wrong hands, internet bots can create serious problems. Have you ever encountered malicious activity on websites? Well, that is as a result of the bad bots. The best example is the distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
How Can DDoS Compromise Your Business
A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt that makes servers or network resources unavailable to internet users.
For the past many decades, internet has gone by many names. While it is no longer referred to as the information superhighway, one can seriously consider going back for that term. This is because of a recent report that revealed the number of bots for the first time in history outnumbered the people using the internet. Now that is a serious statistic that will make anyone reconsider where and how they cruise around this ‘information superhighway’. When studies show that nearly half the cars using this road with you are being chauffeured by mindless bandits who are prospecting to rob you dry, traveling that road in the real world would be disastrous.
Only that this is not the roads in the real world. When a hacker launches a DDoS attack on your business website, this means that users will not be able to use the site due to temporary suspension or interruption. With the increasing competition in the business world being amplified by better internet connectivity, you cannot begin to imagine how that will give your competitors an edge over you. No one wants to waste time with a frequently crashing site.
It is not like the days when business was conducted in brick and mortar offices, where you would even go and wait on the line for several hours to be served. The moment a client realizes that your site is temporarily suspended, they will move to do business with your competitor with the click of a button. Who knows if they will ever stop by again? No one. But chances are they won’t.
Companies that have suffered DDoS attacks have made great losses, beyond their usual revenue. Some have gone to great lengths trying to repair their reputation and built better strategies to re-brand. All that comes at a cost, thanks to the bad internet bots.
The years 2014 to 2015 witnessed a 200 percent rise in the number of DDoS attacks resulting from bad internet bots. Bad bots remain a serious concern for e-commerce websites, but these are not the only concerns for the current online businesses. Bad internet bots are equally associated with a series of other activities such as comment spam, fraud, referrer spam, vulnerability scanning and site scraping. Imagine waking up one morning to find your online business completely wiped off the Internet. Such activities can go a long way to damaging your online business.
What can be Done About Bots?
Bad bots are responsible for a wide range of grave security threats to your site. From click fraud to spamming and scraping, bots are a real nuisance. But what can be done about them? Siphon’s main focus is to eliminate traffic from your website that you no longer want, including malicious bots, data thieves, spammers and hackers.
Things continue to go from bad to worse with a pending lawsuit filed from Criteo, alleging ad tech firm SteelHouse ran a click fraud scheme. The original suit detailed alleged counterfeiting clicks to “trick e-tailers into attributing sales to SteelHouse that should have been credited to Criteo and their other market competitors.”
As a result, SteelHouse has decided to fight back, countersuing Criteo. The suit accuses Criteo of false advertising, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional interference with a contract, and unfair competition. SteelHouse alleges Criteo is attempting to bully a smaller company who is making a mark in the industry and gaining marketing share from Criteo.
SteelHouse also claims in the countersuit that Criteo has made “false, misleading, and malicious statements about SteelHouse, directly to its customers,” which has resulted in losing more than 25 customers. These customers have cited their severed relationship was “directly a result of Criteo’s accusations about SteelHouse’s conduct.” In addition, SteelHouse has lost revenue and their reputation in the ad tech industry has been damaged.
Although Criteo is the larger entity of the two, they are also experiencing a decline in revenue. SteelHouse alleges Criteo is generating fake clicks after a consumer purchases a product. They outline in the countersuit that up to 8% of Criteo’s clicks occur after a purchase has been made. This does not help the retailer, but directly benefits revenue for Criteo.
In this countersuit, SteelHouse is seeking punitive, actual, treble, and compensatory damages, including attorneys’ fees, and preliminary and permanent injunctions that will prohibit Criteo from:
Falsely attributing clicks occurring after a consumer has purchased a product from a website and engaging in cluster click counting.
Falsely attributing clicks with no attributable source.
Engaging in other conduct designed to artificially inflate click count numbers.
Disparaging SteelHouse, its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any other persons who are acting in concert or participation with them, its services, or its products to actual and potential clients, consumers, or competitors.
Both lawsuits indicate this battle not only affect these companies, but shines a larger light on the industry and its PPC practices.
This would have been an easy problem for Siphon to solve. Siphon would have been able to detect the click fraud and generate a report to the effected parties.
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Digital traffic costs companies tens of billions of dollars each year. The same businesses also lose a big portion of their investment every year to click fraud. Recent estimates predict that worldwide companies will suffer losses between seven and eight billion dollars in 2016 because of fraudulent traffic.
Some victims of click fraud choose to fight back in the courts. There have been a number of high-profile lawsuits directed against advertising networks. Even giants like Google and Facebook have had to face litigation because customers didn’t believe they did enough to protect them from losses. In order to understand the growing problem of click fraud, it might be instructive to consider some current litigation.
Gurminder Singh vs. Google
Gurminder Singh filed his suit on July 1. His suit doesn’t accuse the search engine giant of willfully engaging in the actual act of defrauding traffic customers out of clicks. Instead, he based his lawsuit on the idea that the company isn’t truthful about the extent of the problem with its traffic. Google actually does admit that click fraud occurs and takes steps to combat it.
Google claims that the amount of illegitimate traffic that escapes its detection is minimal. At the same time, according to Singh’s complaint, fraudulent clicks have been estimated by some sources to be almost 15 percent of all paid traffic. To back up his claim that the problem was larger than Google admitted, Singh analyzed his own paid traffic from Google.
He claims that his own results were not minimal and even worse than many published estimates. Singh contends that between 40 and 48 percent of the clicks he received to his websites were invalid. While Singh’s personal losses might pale against the billions spent on ads each year, he is attempting to get the suit classified as a class action lawsuit to get other advertisers involved.
Citreo vs. Steelhouse
This litigation was filed in June of 2016 and involves two ad tech companies. Citreo’s lawsuit claims that their rival, Steelhouse, used fraudulent clicks in order to damage their reputation with clients and gain business. For reference, Citreo is an ad-tech giant with over one billion dollars worth of revenues in 2015. Steelhouse is a smaller competitor. Both companies primarily provide re-targeting ads for eCommerce sites.
Citreo contends that Steelhouse used a system to generate counterfeit clicks that made it appear as if traffic from Steelhouse resulted in sales that could have actually been generated by Citreo or another source of traffic. They accuse the defendant of using these invalid statistics to trick customers into purchasing paid advertising from them instead of Citreo. The plaintiff believes that they uncovered this scam after monitoring and analyzing their own logs after they lost a large client to Steelhouse.
Twitch vs. Bot Sellers
Twitch Interactive allows visitors to watch videos of broadcasters playing video games. The most popular broadcasters are more discoverable on the site and also get a chance to share in the company’s advertising revenue. In theory, this model provides an incentive for broadcasters to keep supplying the kind of quality content that attracts more people to the site.
The recent lawsuit contends that the defendants sold bots that automatically inflated traffic. The bots mislead viewers about the popularity of certain broadcasts. They also harmed both Twitch and honest broadcasters because they may divert users and income towards artificially-inflated broadcasts. This game streamer says that the dishonest broadcasters damaged the company’s reputation, reduced content quality, and robbed some content providers of their share of the revenue.
The Different Kinds of Click Fraud in 2016
In the past, most click fraud litigation involved advertisers who had to pay or artificially generated clicks. In some cases, advertising networks might also file against publishers who they suspected of cheating the system. Recent cases have involved ad tech company suing another one for producing fraudulent clicks in order to deceive customers and a video streaming site that wanted to protect its broadcasters and its reputation.
It seems clear that any platform that gives criminals a chance to profit from invalid clicks may be vulnerable to some degree. Because of this, all sorts of online businesses need to constantly monitor their traffic to make sure it’s legitimate.
What to do about Click Fraud?
Siphon can detect click fraud before your page even loads. We then generate a click fraud report so you can see what your real conversion numbers are. Its time to take back control of your analytics, data, and conversions. Sign up for Siphon news, updates and deals to learn more.
Facebook Atlas has confirmed it has pulled its plans to build a demand-side platform into its ad server and measurement platform.
Facebook Atlas began testing a buying platform within Atlas last year, allowing a small set of marketers to use the social network’s “people-based” targeting capabilities to bid on advertising on other sites and apps programmatically — or in other words, in real-time, using automated software.
In a blog post published Monday, the social-networking company said the buying-platform test didn’t deliver enough value for advertisers because the quality of ads on the open web that it was buying through advertising exchanges was too low, often delivering ads to bots not humans. Ad fraud, as it is known in the industry, is expected to cost marketers $7.2 billion in wasted ad spending this year in the US alone, according to a study from the Association of National Advertisers and the ad-fraud detection service White Ops.
The Facebook Atlas test found that only native ads — those designed to look congruous with the other content on the website or app on which they appear — and video ads were delivering good results.
Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president of ads product marketing, told Business Insider that native and video formats delivered “7X” better results than banner ads. The problem right now is that the majority of ads being bought through demand-side platforms on the desktop and mobile web are banner ads, so Facebook is refocusing Atlas’ plans around “building a product in our mission to help marketers deliver and measure true business value,” according to the blog post.
Native and video are its longer-term bets, and in the meantime Atlas will be redoubling its efforts around ad measurement.
Facebook Atlas also looked at the ads that ran through its LiveRail ad-tech platform, which helps publishers with monetization through video ads. But it discovered the same quality issue and removed more than 75% of the inventory coming into its exchange. It switched off the publishers that were delivering ads that weren’t actually viewable, or those on sites that marketers would never want to be advertising on. In January, Facebook confirmed it would no longer be accepting new customers into LiveRail’s ad-serving business.
Boland said: “There are some fundamental things we want to have in place around video. The video ecosystem is fraught with low-quality supply.”
While Atlas doesn’t have a demand-side platform in place just yet with real-time bidding capabilities, Facebook is still bulking it out with some new tools.
One of those is video ad serving across desktop and mobile, which will become available toward the end of this month.
At this stage, Atlas is focused mostly on the measurement side of the piece. Many marketers are already using Atlas to match up users as they cross from one device to the other. Facebook has a big advantage here over other ad tech players because people tend to log in to Facebook on their mobiles, desktops, and tablets using a verified ID. Using Atlas’ “path to conversion” product, advertisers can determine whether a user who saw a mobile ad went on to buy a product on the person’s laptop, for example.
Atlas is also going to provide advertisers with insights on whether those ads led to offline sales by allowing advertisers to upload their point-of-sale data. Depending on the method advertisers use — asking for an email address at the till, or using loyalty-card data, for example — Atlas will match that data with its own records in an anonymized, hashed fashion to tie conversions with digital ad spend.
Boland said: “The important thing to understand is that we are taking a fundamentally different approach. Our approach is helping marketers understand value. We’re focusing on a mobile-first approach, when other tech is desktop [-first] which can struggle with the mobile environment. Our entire company is mobile-first and we are bringing advertisers this ability in a way no other system can.”
In October last year, Facebook told Business Insider that the top 10 advertisers that work with Atlas — brands including Microsoft, KLM, and Nestlé — spend more than $20 billion in advertising across all media. Atlas’ head of global sales, Damian Burns, said at the time that Atlas was using just “15-20%” of its full functionality.
While advertisers are clearly finding the measurement tools useful (Facebook outlines case studies from KLM, Mini, and Banque Populaire in the blog post,) the next piece of the jigsaw Facebook will need to find is the bidding capability if it wants to take on market-leader Google DoubleClick. Last week, the trade publication AdExchanger highlighted that many advertisers simply see Atlas as a “measurement pixel” rather than a fully fledged ad server.
Raaj Kapur Brar runs a small but successful empire of online fashion magazines from his base just outside Toronto. Some of his titles are huge online brands, such as Fashion & Style Magazine, which has 1.6 million Facebook fans. Until Facebook Click Fraud hit him.
That’s more fans than Elle magazine has.
Even his niche brands, such as South Asian Fashion, are huge — it has 1.7 million fans. A typical Fashion & Style post will get 2,000 likes.
His umbrella company, Fetopolis, is exactly the kind of marketer-publisher that Facebook has encouraged to take advantage of its 1.2 billion-strong audience. Fetopolis’ titles post a constant stream of new pictures and fashion ideas, his followers love them, and he gets money from clothing labels to push content.
Recently, however, Brar has fallen out of love with Facebook. He discovered — as Business Insider reported recently — that his Facebook fanbase was becoming polluted with thousands of fake likes from bogus accounts. He can no longer tell the difference between his real fans and the fake ones. Many appear fake because the users have so few friends, are based in developing countries, or have generic profile pictures.
At one point, he had a budget of more than $600,000 for Facebook ad campaigns, he tells us. Now he believes those ads were a waste of time.
Brar’s take is a cautionary one because Facebook click fraud has 25 million small businesses using its platform for one marketing purpose or another. Many of them are not sophisticated advertisers — they are simply plugging a credit card number into the system and hoping for the best. This is what can happen if you don’t pay careful attention to contract language, or the live, real-time results your campaigns on Facebook are having.
Fashion & Style / FacebookA review of emails from Facebook, ad campaign dashboard screengrabs, and billing records show a confusing, acrimonious dispute in which both sides believe the other acted badly. It’s not even entirely clear what Brar’s total spending was: Campaign budget data seen by Business Insider appear to show that Brar ran at least $489,000 in ads on Facebook. One email from Facebook demands payment of an unpaid bill for $370,000. Brar himself believes he ran up to $640,000 in ads.
To be fair to Facebook, this is the advertising business — the company can guarantee exposure but not results. Advertise the wrong thing in the wrong way, and you’ll lose your money. Clearly, the vast majority of businesses that use Facebook for marketing are pleased with the experience. Facebook’s growing revenues, up 63% last quarter, indicate it is only getting more successful at selling advertising, not less.
And, of course, Brar is a disgruntled former customer with a bone to pick. There is a fair amount of he-said, she-said in the retelling of what happened between Brar and Facebook. Obviously, both sides dispute what the other is saying.
A Facebook spokesperson told us, “This business owner is using press as a customer service channel. In fact, very recently he has asked us to allow him to run more Facebook ads on credit. We have been in touch with Raaj and hope to continue working with him directly, and not through the media, to find a solution. When he asked us to look into a specific click report to verify referral traffic, we did so with bit.ly and verified that the number of clicks reported were accurate.”
Here’s how Brar believes it went down: He became interested in advertising on Facebook in 2012, and he took it seriously. He went to Facebook’s local Toronto office where he was trained to use the advertising interface. They set up the campaign, and ran a small “beta” test. Then, in late October Brar pulled the trigger on a massive push through Facebook’s Ads Manager. He used Bitly and Google Analytics to measure the number of clicks his campaign was generating.
The results were disastrous, Brar says.
South Asian Fashion / Facebook’s analytics said the campaign sent him five times the number of clicks he was seeing arrive on his sites, which Brar was monitoring with Bitly, Google Analytics, and his own web site’s WordPress dashboard. There was a reasonable discrepancy between the Bitly and Google numbers, Brar says, but not the five-fold margin between Google’s and Facebook’s click counts.
At one point, data from Facebook indicated his ads had delivered 606,000 clicks, but the site itself registered only 160,000 incoming clicks from Facebook, according to data supplied by Brar. (160,000 clicks is a not insignificant return. After all, these are not clicks on a mere Facebook page, these are users who clicked through to an off-Facebook site.)
Worse, after just a few days of running the campaign — at a spend rate of up to $100,000 a day, the kind of budget that Macy’s or Walmart might devote — it became clear that the revenue being generated by the campaign would never pay for the ads. Brar was hoping that the small sum he was paying for Facebook ads would be profitably eclipsed by the much more expensive Google ads he was running on his websites. He was arbitraging the traffic, essentially — which is a routine practice in online marketing.
Brar’s tests had suggested that the return on his investment in ads might by two or three times their cost. But when the full flight of ads ran, it was a tiny fraction of that.
“I don’t know what to say, right? This is a huge loss. This ran for four days, then we just stopped the campaign,” Brar says.
Then, things got worse. Even though Fetopolis wasn’t advertising, the likes and new followers kept on piling up. Normally, an advertiser would be pleased at such a result, but every time Brar checked a sample of the new fans he found people with dubious names; a picture of a flower as a profile shot; and fewer than 10 friends — classic signs of a fake profile.
Facebook advertising has a little-discussed problem: When you run an ad, people operating fake profiles will click on the ad and like your page simply to make their own fake profile look more genuine, as if it is being operated by a real person. These fake clicks come from click farms, which are an entirely separate illegitimate underworld within social media marketing. Often based in Asia, click farms exist to defraud legitimate advertisers by delivering vast numbers of cheap clicks that would otherwise not occur. Genuine advertisers attract fake clicks in two ways: Directly, through fraudulent clicks on their ads; and indirectly, when click farms try to camoflage their fake user profiles by clicking randomly on whatever ads are targeted at them.
Facebook works hard to get rid of fake accounts. In its annual report, the company said that only about 0.4% – 1.2% of all active users are abusive accounts that create facebook click fraud.
Nonetheless, a badly targeted campaign can generate huge numbers of fake fans and bogus likes. This appears to be what happened to Brar.
“We spent over $600,000-plus to get these fans. And we haven’t run any campaigns for over two years, but still our pages are growing at 100,000-plus new likes every week. And I bet that most of them are fake likes with fake profiles,” Brar says. “How many did we pay for that are fake?”
Naturally, Brar began disputing his bill with Facebook. He wanted his clicks audited by a third party, to see how many were genuine. Then he discovered that Facebook’s terms of service forbid third-party verification of its clicks. That’s something all advertisers should be aware of before they spend a penny on Facebook: Facebook has operated this way for a long time, and has a page for advertisers explaining in more depth why third-party click reporting may not match Facebook’s click counts. Essentially, Facebook suggests, if clicks are not measured in exactly the same way over the same time intervals then there will always be discrepancies.
Facebook is different from the rest of the online ad industry, which follows a standard of allowing click audits by third parties like the IAB, the Media Ratings Council or Ernst & Young.”I asked Facebook click fraud, can you provide any third-party evidence besides your own server analytics? Because we’re losing money here right now. They said no, we’ve checked our systems and no one else reported any issues.”
“I have to take your word for it?” Brar said. “It was ‘thank you for your money, no we’re not wrong, all the other third parties are wrong.'”
Brar declined to pay the bill. He told Business Insider that his magazine titles did not generate enough revenue to cover $600,000. His credit with Facebook was ruined. He offered to pay cash in advance for future campaigns but Facebook demurred. Facebook did not sue Brar or pursue him further for the money, however.
In the year or more since the campaign, Brar says. He has tried to figure out what portion of his fanbase is fake. “But Facebook doesn’t have a tool for that,” he says. Via businessinsider.com
SAN JOSE (CN) — Google promises that fewer than 10 percent of hits on its pay-per-click AdWords Program are invalid or fraudulent, though nearly half are, bringing Google ad fraud billions of dollars in unjust profits each year, an advertiser claims in a class action.
Gurminder Singh sued Google on July 1, alleging breach of contract, breach of faith and failing to prevent click fraud, in Federal Court.
AdWords is a pay-per-click program based on keywords. Ads that get more clicks get better placement in search results. Advertisers pay Google only when a user clicks on the ad.
In AdWords, website publishers get 51 percent of the revenue recognized by Google, and Google keeps 49 percent, Singh says. In a similar Google program, AdSense, on the Google Display Network, website publishers get 68 percent of the revenue and Google keeps 32 percent.
But the multibillion-dollar Internet ad market is riddled with click fraud.
“In December 2014, AdWeek reported that digital advertising would take in $43.8 billion during the 2015 calendar year, and estimated that $6.3 billion of that would be based solely upon fraudulent activity,” Singh says in the complaint.
That comes to 14.4 percent.
Singh says that “Google promises to protect consumers from fraudulent clicks, including clicks originating from click bots, click farms, and other improper click methods.”
“Although Google acknowledges that click fraud does occur, it assures users, like plaintiff, that ‘[t]he vast majority of all invalid clicks on AdWords ads are caught by our online filters. These filters are constantly being updated and react to a wide variety of traffic patterns and indications of click fraud attacks. On average, invalid clicks account for less than 10 percent of all clicks on AdWords ads.'”
Singh says that’s not true, and he proved it by experiment. After paying Google ad fraud for an AdWords account for eight years, he says, he “conducted a series of experiments to determine whether his Google Display Network advertisements were being fraudulently manipulated, and if so to calculate the extent of such fraud.”
“Upon completion, plaintiff’s experiments revealed rampant, widespread invalid click activity on ads within plaintiff’s advertising campaign, at a rate between forty (40) and forty-eight (48) percent of total clicks on the Google Display Network, for each of which Google collects 32 percent of the total advertising proceeds. Across the entirety of AdWords’ United States user base, these invalid clicks result in billions of dollars in additional profits for Google on
Singh ran the experiments to determine if his advertisements were being manipulated by fraudulent clicks. He ran four ads- two pairs of “standard” and “experimental” ads that he monitored.
Singh said he conducted his experiment by running ads with normal and nonsensical text and comparing the results. He found a fraudulent click rate of 40 percent and 48 percent respectively.
The experiment, he says, shows “the large-scale impact of click bots, click farms, and other improper click methods employed by third-party publishers and website owners on AdWords and AdSense.”
He seeks class certification, disgorgement of unjust profits, restitution, damages and costs o suit.
Google’s AdSense has been the subject of similar litigation, including other class actions. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Google’s appeal of a similar class action, and allowed the class to proceed with claims that the company misled advertisers about the placement of their ads.
And in May, a federal judge in San Jose sided with plaintiffs and refused to dismiss several of four AdSense advertisers’ claims against Google ad fraud.
SAN JOSE – A Vacaville individual has filed a class-action lawsuit against a Mountain View tech company alleging it did not protect its advertisers from per-click overcharges on online ads. And now Google sued for Adwords yet again.
Gurminder Singh filed a complaint on behalf of all others similarly situated on July 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division against Google Inc. alleging breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and other counts.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that he suffered damages as a result of an invalid click activity on a pay-per-click advertising campaign through Google sued for AdWords program. The plaintiff holds Google Inc. responsible because the defendant allegedly represented that invalid clicks account for only less than 10 percent of all clicks in AdWords ads, but upon testing plaintiff found out that it was much more than what the defendant advertised. Because of the invalid clicks, the plaintiff alleges the defendant receives billions of dollars in additional profits annually.
The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks actual damages, restitution, disgorgement, interest, all legal fees and any other relief as the court deems just. He is represented by Todd M. Schneider and Kyle G. Bates of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky Wotkyns LLP in Emeryville.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division Case number 5:16-cv-03734-HRL Via norcalrecord.com
The ancient Chinese military strategy guide The Art of War says that if you want to have a chance of prevailing in battle, you need to know your enemy, click fraud. It’s good advice for the battlefield, and it’s also good advice if you want to beat hackers in their constant attempts to take over your network.
But in order to know these hackers using click fraud you need to understand their motivations, and in many cases those motivations may not be what you expect. That’s according to Dan Kaminski, the security expert who discovered a fundamental flaw in the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) protocol in 2008 and who discovered flaws in the widely used SSL protocol a year later. Kaminski is a frequent speaker at Black Hat Briefings, and now works as Chief Scientist at White Ops, a security firm specializing in detecting bot and malware fraud.
“If you are a CIO you must ask why people are breaking in to your network. The answer is to get your data — eventually. But initially it is to defraud advertisers,” Kaminsky says. “The major motivator for hackers is to commit click fraud as it provides a way to cash out a compromised machine. Only once they have done that will they look at what else they can do with the machine.”
As companies catch on that a given machine is responsible for click fraud, that machine’s ability to generate cash for the fraudsters drops dramatically until it has no further use to them. It’s at that point that access to the compromised machine will be sold off to someone else to exploit, with servers in large enterprises commanding far higher prices than compromised run-of-the-mill consumer machines.
Yahoo Gemini is a fairly new advertising platform, having launched in 2014. Yahoo Gemini is an extreme effective ad campaign that uses native advertising, that is, ads that look like the stories they run beside rather than actual ads. Yahoo Gemini is extremely mobile friendly and like most pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms, can help you get your message out to a targeted audience.
How Yahoo Gemini Works
Pay-per-click sites serve ads to visitors according to preferences and what the site is about. In Yahoo Gemini, a small portion of Gemini ads will be served to people using the Yahoo search engine. If the ad is interesting, the visitor clicks on the ad and is taken to a link that you designate. You pay money per click. Yahoo Gemini picks the sites and when the ads appear according to keywords you select, the demographics, and even the countries. It provides geotargeting and even negative keywords. Yahoo Gemini allows you to set a budget and also set a bid amount. That bid amount is the amount you’re willing to pay per click to service the ad. You’re bidding against other businesses to have your ad show up, so choosing a higher PPC bid is more likely to net you more advertising.
Gemini ads appear on various websites that publish ads for Gemini to make money for their sites. These publisher sites will promote your ads. Gemini does not work with the Bing search engine, and is very limited on the Yahoo search engine, but because it is extremely mobile friendly, you may decide it is worth using because it is on mobile friendly pages. What’s more, Yahoo is promising more search engine advertising with Yahoo Gemini ads.
Pros and Cons of Using Yahoo Gemini
Yahoo Gemini ads are excellent for mobile and native advertising applications. You are more likely to get targeted traffic to your site from this. That being said, this PPC platform is open to click fraud from both the publishers and potential competition. The fact that Yahoo has been taken to court recently for click fraud on videos shows that the Gemini platform may be open to click fraud from being part of Yahoo’s advertising platform. As of December 2015. Yahoo allows about half the Gemini advertisements into its search pages. That’s good, but that means half are still not being served.
Because Yahoo is still a relatively new platform, it does seem to have growing pains. That being said, if you’re looking for native advertising and mobile reach, consider Yahoo Gemini.
You own a business and are thinking that you could use social media to get your message out. You have a Facebook page for your company, or are planning to have one. But how do you get people to learn about your company and your page? One way to do this is with Facebook’s own pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Facebook PPC ads are simple to set up, and are targeted, which helps make sure the right people see your ads.
How It Works
Facebook ads are simple to construct. Generally you’ll be creating an ad that is mostly photo and not text. The good news is you can include all the particulars and links in the post, itself, so you can get all the information in. Facebook will even help you create the right ad for your audience. Facebook has a simple interface that is very easy to use. Once you have an ad together, you select your target audience by demographics. You then have the ability to specify how much money you want to spend on the ad campaign, and how much you’re willing to pay per click.
Pros and Cons of Facebook PPC
One great thing about Facebook advertising is that it is highly targeted. That means that you can specify certain consumers in certain countries with preferences. You actually can find your audience quickly. Another good thing is that since Facebook is the host for the ads, there is no publisher to worry about committing click fraud. And because the advertising is targeted, click fraud by competitors is unlikely. There is no real minimum you have to spend for ads, although Facebook does make recommendations. You can control your ads and start or stop them at any time.
Negatives to Facebook include you won’t reach customers who aren’t on Facebook or who use Facebook infrequently. The PPC bidding can be frustrating if you have a small budget and go up against some bigger advertisers. This is because you’re bidding against other advertisers when you specify your PPC. If, for example, you decide you only want to pay 30 cents per click, your ad won’t be shown to a certain audience whose advertisers spend one dollar per click. That can be very frustrating, but that is the nature of the advertising. Facebook does provide metrics as to what it thinks the reach will be, but sometimes those metrics may be off because of the nature of the bidding.
Facebook isn’t the end-all when it comes to social media. Facebook PPC appeals more to a maturer audience; if you’re looking to advertise to teens and twenty-somethings, Snapchat and Instagram might be a better option.